Dementia is a progressive disease, which means it will get worse over time. For some people, dementia progresses rapidly. For others, it takes years to reach an advanced stage. One of the biggest challenges for family caregivers of older adults with dementia is not knowing what’s going to happen next.
The Stages of Dementia
In the mild stages, your loved one may be able to perform their daily routines without difficulty. By the moderate stages, they might start to have trouble doing routine tasks that they always did. In the severe stages, however, they will need to have help with day-to-day activities.
Because people with dementia progress through these stages at different speeds and with differing symptoms, it is helpful to focus on helping your loved one live well with dementia and meeting their needs at that time.
Changes in the Brain Caused by Dementia
Dementia isn’t just about memory loss, such as forgetting someone’s name or where you parked. Although a common symptom of dementia is a decline in memory, there are other symptoms that impact an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities independently.
Other common symptoms include less motivation and lack of initiative, changes in language and communication skills, and mood changes such as depression and/or anxiety. These changes can be one of the most upsetting aspects of caring for someone with dementia.
Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia act the way they do, the explanation is attributable to their disease and the changes it causes in the brain. It’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the common situations that arise when someone has dementia so that you know how to respond calmly and effectively.
Here’s a look at 10 dementia care dos and don’ts for family caregivers.
For more information about what you can expect as a family caregiver for a loved one with dementia, download our eBook When Is the Right Time for Memory Care?, a guide for family caregivers on how to know when it’s the right time to consider moving an elderly parent or loved one to a memory care community.